Saturday, December 31, 2005

Snow Tonight, or Does a Mother Ever Stop Worrying?

A light snow is falling as I write this. The snows of early December have finally melted and the ground is bare, but that will soon change. Before dark, just as the snow began, I took Cosmo out to the backyard and let him romp around on the grass. An eight-pound poodle, he can (literally) run circles around me. He seemed joyously oblivious of the flurries around him and blissfully unaware that this would be his last daylight sniff of 2005.

The problem with New Year's Eve is that it occurs in winter. So snow and ice are always possible, even probable, here in New England. And the problem with snow and ice on New Year's Eve is obvious--driving, drinking, sliding, skidding.

I thought I had things worked out pretty well this year, though. Eric and I will be close to home, just a few blocks away. (I would feel better if Eric had put the snow tires on his rear-wheel-drive car, but hey, if we get stuck at the bottom of our hill, we can always hike up.) As for older son Aaron, he's in New York City and will be ringing in the New Year on the Upper East Side, where it probably won't be cold enough to snow, and anyway, he doesn't have a car.

Then there's Alex, the younger. I thought he was under control, too. Control? you might well ask. Whose control? At twenty, he's not amenable to mine. But his plan was okay with me--he'd head to a party at his friend Max's house in Cambridge and, since he would be drinking, it was understood that he wouldn't be driving. Instead, he'd spend the night at Max's and come home in the morning.

But the best laid plans, etc. etc. I wandered into Alex's room after walking Cosmo and couldn't miss the pile of used tissues on his desk.

"Got the sniffles?" I asked, hoping it was an allergic reaction to the Mexican food he'd had for lunch. But no, it was as I feared. Alex said he wasn't feeling so great--sore throat, stuffy nose, your basic cold.

"I think I might come home early tonight," he said. I glanced out the window. Snowflakes danced in the fading light. Visions of slippery roads glistened in my mind's eye.

So, what's a mother to do? Well, being the kind of mother who has a hard time separating unless she's made sure her children are aware of all possible impending dangers, I stated the obvious. I reminded Alex that my car, which he'd be borrowing, wasn't as snow-worthy as his old Toyota. I warned him that the roads would be slick, that drunk drivers would abound, that he should "DRIVE CAREFULLY." I almost ended with my standard apologia--It's not that I don't trust you, it's just that it makes me feel better to know I've warned you. But, remembering the pained expression on his face the last time I tried to explain myself that way, I left the words unsaid.

I know the ice sculptures at First Night in Boston will be gorgeous on this frigid, snowy night. And inside, at parties across the Commonwealth, warm fires and plenty of champagne will bring a rosy glow to the faces of revelers. And I believe Alex is a careful driver who won't drink if he's going to drive. Still, I'll be praying it all turns to rain.

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